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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Apr;18(4):493-9. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2030. Epub 2011 Mar 20.

Strain conformation, primary structure and the propagation of the yeast prion [PSI+].

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


Prion proteins can adopt multiple infectious strain conformations. Here we investigate how the sequence of a prion protein affects its capacity to propagate specific conformations by exploiting our ability to create two distinct infectious conformations of the yeast [PSI(+)] prion protein Sup35, termed Sc4 and Sc37. PNM2, a G58D point mutant of Sup35 that was originally identified for its dominant interference with prion propagation, leads to rapid, recessive loss of Sc4 but does not interfere with propagation of Sc37. PNM2 destabilizes the amyloid core of Sc37 and causes compensatory effects that slow prion growth but aid prion division and result in robust propagation of Sc37. By contrast, PNM2 does not affect the structure or chaperone-mediated division of Sc4 but interferes with its delivery to daughter cells. Thus, effective delivery of infectious particles during cell division is a crucial and conformation-dependent step in prion inheritance.

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